Enjoy the Wonderful Colours of Autumn From Our Top 10 Country Pubs

Welcome in the new season with a refreshing country walk to take in the changing colours of the landscape. And then what better reward than delicious food and a genuinely warm welcome from our Top 10 Country Pubs for a perfect day out. Royal Oak, Fritham, Hampshire Country Pub of the Year 2021 There’s a…

Welcome in the new season with a refreshing country walk to take in the changing colours of the landscape. And then what better reward than delicious food and a genuinely warm welcome from our Top 10 Country Pubs for a perfect day out.

Royal Oak, Fritham, Hampshire

Country Pub of the Year 2021

There’s a real down-on-the-farm feel to this appealing pub, and customers can immerse themselves in its bucolic charm if they fancy sleeping over in the shepherd’s hut accommodation. The landlady’s daughter runs Howen Farm, just next door, whose livestock you can watch grazing in the fields as you sup your ale. Up to seven real ales are tapped from the cask including one named for the pub (from Bowman), Branscombe Vale Branoc, Flack Manor Double Drop, Hop Back Summer Lightning, Ringwood Best and Stonehenge Danish Dynamite. Also, nine wines by the glass (mulled wine in winter), 14 country wines and local cider. Service remains friendly and efficient even when the pub is packed (which it often is). Dogs are welcome but must be on a lead.


Harp, Old Radnor, Wales

Our readers continue to heap praise on this charming hilltop inn with its friendly licensees and bags of ancient character. An old stone longhouse overlooking the heights of the Radnor Forest, it boasts slate floors, oak beams, antique settles and a roaring open inglenook fire. There are two well kept beers on handpump ‘ regulars include Ludlow Gold, Salopian Darwins Origin and Oracle, Skinners Betty Stogs, Three Tuns XXX and Wye Valley HPA  as well as six wines and prosecco by the glass, local cider, local gins, vodkas and whiskies. A quieter dining area off to the right from the snug bar extends into another dining room with a woodburning stove. Tables outside maximise the glorious view.


The Pheasant Inn, Burwardsley, Cheshire

From its vantage point in the Peckforton Hills, the Pheasant offers sweeping views of the Cheshire plain and across to North Wales, along with top-end hospitality to locals, walkers and guests. Friendly, helpful staff serve real ales such as Cheshire Brew Brothers Gold and Weetwoods Best, Cheshire Cat and Eastgate on handpump, around 20 wines by the glass, ten malt whiskies and local farm cider. From picnic-sets on the terrace, you can enjoy one of the county’s most magnificent views; on a clear day with the telescope you can see as far as the pier head and cathedrals in Liverpool. There are plenty of surrounding walks and the scenic Sandstone Trail passes nearby.


Fleece, Bretforton, Worcestershire

Once a farm, it belonged to the same family for 500 years and many of the furnishings are original heirlooms. As well as massive beams and exposed timbers, there are worn and crazed flagstones (scored with marks to keep out demons) and plenty of oddities such as a great cheese press and set of cheese moulds and a rare dough-proving table. Purity Mad Goose, Uley Pigs Ear and Wye Valley Bitter with guests such as North Cotswold Moreton Mild and Wychwood Hobgoblin on handpump, nine wines by the glass, a similar number of malt whiskies and four farm ciders ‘ including Ark cider made with their own orchard’s apples. The lawn, with fruit trees around a beautifully restored thatched and timbered barn, is a lovely place to sit, and there are more picnic-sets and a stone pump-trough in the front courtyard.


Brace of Pheasants, Plush, Dorset

A highly recommended old thatched cottage tucked away down narrow, country lanes, with perfect walking country all around. Cerne Abbas Ale and a guest such as Flack Manor Double Drop are tapped from the cask alongside a fine choice of wines with 20 by the glass, and two proper farm ciders. A decent-sized garden (the perfect play space for pub dog Lucy) includes a terrace and a lawn sloping up towards a rockery.


Malet Arms, Newton Tony, Wiltshire

There’s genuine unspoilt character to this pub next to the little River Bourne and the village green. That, mixed with the warmth of the welcome from the long-running owners and chatty locals, makes it a rather special place. Four real ales on handpump come from breweries such as Butcombe, Fullers, Hop Back, Itchen Valley, Palmers, Plain, Ramsbury, Stonehenge and Triple fff and they also have farm cider on tap, over 30 malt whiskies and ten wines by the glass. There are seats on the small front terrace with more on grass and in the back garden.


Hatchet, Lower Chute, Wiltshire

The Chutes are a cluster of surprisingly remote villages just north of Andover, but plenty of customers manage to find their way to this long thatched pub. The beamed bar has a splendid 16th-c fireback in a huge fireplace (and a roaring winter log fire), various comfortable seats around oak tables and a peaceful local feel; there’s also an extensive restaurant. The convivial landlord serves Timothy Taylors Landlord and a couple of guests such as Hatchet (named for the pub from Greene King) and Otter Bitter on handpump, eight wines by the glass, 20 malt whiskies, 40 different gins and several farm ciders including a rhubarb variety. There are seats out on a terrace and the side grass, and a safe play area for children.


Rugglestone, Widecombe, Devon

This appealing, wisteria-clad stone building has a picturesque setting, tucked away in a Dartmoor village beside a stream. An inn since the 1830s, it’s just the place to refuel after enjoying a hearty walk in the surrounding countryside. The rudimentary bar counter dispenses Moor beer (brewed just for them from Teignworthy), Dartmoor Legend and regional guests tapped from the cask; also, local farm cider and a decent small wine list. The room on the right is slightly bigger and lighter in feel, with beams, another stone fireplace, stripped-pine tables and a built-in wall bench; there’s also a small dining room. To reach the picnic-sets in the garden you have to cross a bridge over a little moorland stream.


Crown, Little Missenden, Buckinghamshire

Few pubs can boast of being run by the same lovely family for more than 90 years, and that’s one of the reasons why coming here is special. All visitors, not just the loyal bunch of regulars, are warmly welcomed. You’ll find Otter Bitter and three quickly changing guests on handpump or tapped from the cask, ten farm ciders, summer Pimms, a good range of gins and several malt whiskies; darts and board games. A large attractive sheltered garden behind has picnic-sets and other tables, and there are also seats out in front. Dogs may be allowed inside if well behaved. No children. The interesting church in the pretty village is well worth a visit.


The White Horse, Hedgerley, Buckinghamshire

This convivial country gem is many people’s idea of an unspoilt English pub and it’s hard to believe that it’s so close to suburbia as it feels a world away. The fine range of real ales might include Rebellion IPA and up to seven daily changing guests, sourced from all over the country and tapped straight from casks kept in a room behind the tiny hatch counter. Also, craft ales in kegs or bottles, three farm ciders, a dozen wines by the glass, a similar number of malt whiskies and winter mulled wine. A canopied extension leads out to the garden where there are tables, lots of hanging baskets and occasional barbecues; a few tables in front of the building overlook the quiet road; disabled access. There are good walks nearby and the pub is handy for the Church Wood RSPB reserve.


Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash